Malditas try to keep hopes alive as they take on AFF champion Vietnam
NAY PYI TAW – The Philippines marches back to battle, eager to redeem itself and claim the most important victory in the 27th Southeast Asian Games women's football competitions.
The Malditas clash with reigning Asean Football Federation champion Vietnam for a win that will improve their chances of advancing to the semifinals. Vietnam also won the 2009 SEA Games, but the 2011 meet in Indonesia did not include a women's tournament.
Kickoff is at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at the Mandalar Thiri Stadium in Mandalay, a city nearly three hours away via land travel from this newly-established Burmese capital.
Despite parading a powerful roster beefed by several US-based standouts, the Malditas still failed to live up to their lofty billing as they succumbed to Myanmar, 0-2, in their first match.
Officials didn't come forward to admit the team's lapses. Instead, they pointed at the noisy home crowd and several questionable calls as main reasons for their downfall.
And against the Vietnamese – a powerful team that ranks 28th in the latest Fifa ranking –the Malditas could have a more difficult time.
"Vietnam plays more like Myanmar and Thailand," said Malditas' team manager Filbert Alquiros. "They have the same style and employ the same strategies. But I think it will be an even match. It all depends on the bounce of the ball come gametime."
The Malditas need to prevail over the Vietnamese to remain in contention. They, however, also have to pray that the Vietnamese lose to the Burmese in their game on Sunday to formally clinch one of the two semifinal slots in Group A.
Should the Malditas prevail, but Vietnam also wins over Myanmar, there will be a three-way tie to be broken by the quotient system.
"It's something beyond our control," Alquiros said. "We'll just do our best (against Vietnam) and hope for the best. The girls are in high spirits. Everybody’s raring to go."